Is Israel Isolated?

Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #188, December 20, 2013

1.  Ireland’s healthcare giant, Covidien, acquired Israel’s Given Imaging – the swallowed capsule endoscope developer – for $860MN.  In 2012, Covidien acquired three Israeli medical device companies - respiratory monitor developer Oridion for $346MN, bronchial tubes endoscope maker superDimension for $300MN, and hernia mesh company PolyTouch for $40MN. (Globes Business Daily, December 8, 2013).  The San Diego-based healthcare technology giant, CareFusion, acquired 40% of Israel’s Caesarea Medical Electronics – the infusion pump systems manufacturer - for $100MN (Globes, Dec. 10). Kazakhstan’s Kenges Rakishev invested $35MN in Israeli startups through his Genesis Angels investment fund.  In September 2012, Rakishev invested $20MN in Israel’s Mobli (Globes, Nov. 21).

2.   Financial Times, December 16, 2013: “Israelis see many economic, strategic and diplomatic developments that are positive for the Jewish state…. the Israelis have been buoyed by the discovery that rising economic powers seem relatively unmoved by the plight of the Palestinians. One Israeli official notes, with pleasure, that in six hours of talks with the Chinese leadership, ‘they spent roughly 10 seconds on the Palestinians’, while revealing ‘an unquenchable thirst for Israeli technology.’ The Israelis say that Latin Americans also tend to be more interested in economics and technology than the political issues that preoccupy the Europeans and Americans…. I travelled to Israel expecting to find a country that was excessively paranoid. I left wondering whether the problem might, in fact, be excessive complacency.”

3.  Israel is the only non-EU member participating in the $108BN Horizon 2020 R&D program.  Israel is the only non-European full-member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research.  Israel’s participation attests to Europe’s eagerness to benefit from its top R&D qualities. An Israel-EU diplomatic compromise facilitated Israel’s participation: Israel will not use such funding beyond the “Green Line,” while Israeli institutions operating on both sides of the “Green Line” will be able to apply the funding in accordance with the overall program…

4. London’s Economist Intelligence Unit, Dec. 13: “The monthly data on trade in goods, published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, on Dec. 12, 2013, confirmed the improvement in the overall trade picture…. The deficit for November, on a seasonally adjusted basis and excluding ships, aircraft and diamonds, amounted to $1.12BN, almost identical to October, but well below the average level of $1.5BN in the four preceding months…. The improvement is being led by a rebound in exports, especially in the key high technology sector.”

5.  (Forbes, Richard Behar, July 24, 2013, “Israel’s ultra-Orthodox [13% of the population] who for decades have cut themselves off from larger society, are jumping in. They have long been exempt from Israel’s compulsory military service, which has served as an entrepreneurial springboard for the region’s secular Jews…. [Currently, they serve in IDF’s high tech units, in addition to three combat battalions]…. For Intel, which has 8,500 employees in Israel and generates 10% of the country’s industrial exports each year, the ultra-Orthodox are yet another untapped resource. Over the past five years the company has been slowly assimilating them into its workforce–of the 1,000 workers in the Jerusalem office more than 100 are ultra-Orthodox…. Intel takes great pains to work with the sect’s rabbis to ensure traditions are respected. ‘It’s getting to know one another,’ says Yishai Fraenkel, a general manager at Intel’s Jerusalem operations. ‘It’s really creating within the workplace a microcosm of full Israeli society…. We do it because they’re good people, they’re bright people, they’re driven people. They are already driving innovations….’”